Say a party of a Druid, Wizard and a Ranger REALLY doesn't want the creature to move during combat.

The Wizard casts Maximilian Earthen Grasp

The Druid casts Entangle

The Ranger casts Ensnaring Strike and hits the monster

Say the monster fails all three STR saving checks (let's say it's a mage with a usual weak STR score). So the monster will be Restrained at the same time by all those 3 different spells (say DC is 12, 13 and 14)

On the next turn, the monster tries to free himself and throws the STR save dice.

Our DM says "if the monster gets 15 on his STR save - he is "unrestrained" from all of the three spells at the same time, form that one good STR save." Basically his rationale is that in order to break free from all of the three spells the monster is spreading his arms and legs, pushing his body, etc. And this is the way the vines form both Entangle and Ensnaring strike break. So that one good push must break all of the vines, not just from one of the spells...

The other guy at the table says that the monster would have to make 3 separate STR checks, for each separate spell that restrains him. And actually the monster would require to spend 3 actions to get free from all the 3 spells. So that this nasty tactic would waste 3 precious turns for the monster.

Who is right by RAW?

How would you rule at your table in a situation like this?

Does this look like a smart move to ambush and neutralize a mage? Basically, cast two such "restraining" spells like Ensnaring strike and Entangle and then add a fog Cloud on top of it so that a mage can't cast misty step and will have to waste two precious turns to break free from all of the vines... Does that all make sense?


3 Answers 3


It would take a separate action for each restraint

The rules for each spell specifically states the restrained creature has to use their action to make a strength check against the spell DC. You can't normally use your action for more than one thing at a time even if it is the same kind of thing. A DM might house rule they can try all the strength checks at once, but reasonably speaking, it would have to be with disadvantage.

Your suggested combo of restraining a mage then using fog cloud would work to an extent, but it might not be as effective as you might hope. If the enemy mage has a familiar they can send them outside of the fog cloud and see through their eyes to cast misty step. It also doesn't technically stop them from blind firing spells like fireball. Also, once the fog cloud is in place, you can't easily target them either.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Better than Fog Cloud would be Silence. Most spells (including Misty Step) have a verbal component. Our party successfully used this strategy against a 20th level wizard when we were around 5th level. (Here's my character's account of the ambush.) \$\endgroup\$ Jun 28, 2022 at 1:03

Even if this would not require an action to free yourself, each spell calls for its own check

This is explained in the spellcasting rules on page 205 PHB:

Combining Magical Effects
The effects of different spells add together while the durations of those spells overlap.

If there are three different spells affecting you, you have to deal with the effects from each of them. If each asks you to make a check, you have to make three checks, one for each. Nothing under combining magical effects states that if several spells have the same saving throw or check, you can combine them into a single saving throw or check, so you can not do that.

  • \$\begingroup\$ It is not clear to me what "The effects of different spells add together while the durations of those spells overlap" means. Certainly it doesn't mean you make one check with the summed (or averaged) DC of all the effects. As you say, "If each asks you to make a check, you have to make three checks, one for each." But that is hardly 'adding them together'; rather it is more like 'the effects of different spells exist independently while their duration overlaps' - which is pretty much the opposite of what the rules say. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jul 12, 2022 at 17:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Kirt: I think the issue being addressed by the add together is "stacking" - if you have two different spells that increase AC by +2 and +1, their effects "add together" to a total improvement of +3 to AC. The point however is that each separate, differently named spell creates its own effect. The bulk of the section is about how that is not the case if they are caused by spells of the same name, i.e. two castings of Shield of Faith only add +2, not +4). I do agree, I could have quoted more to make that more clear. \$\endgroup\$ Jul 12, 2022 at 17:55
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    \$\begingroup\$ I don't think the unclarity it is the fault in your answer, but rather the wording of the rules themselves. Yes, if two different spells added together to affect AC, then a +1 and a +2 would give you a +3 to AC. If they did not add together, then only the biggest bonus would apply, or perhaps you would have to make two separate attempts to hit each AC. In the case of 'restrained', however, the rules say that the effects add together, but I believe they mean that they are treated independently, which is the opposite of what they say. \$\endgroup\$
    – Kirt
    Jul 12, 2022 at 18:20

One way you can technically have two rolls, but keep the action and narrative moving, is to have them roll at disadvantage.

I think the players would accept without much thought, and it assists the narrative. Having the monster roll with disadvantage not only simplifies the mechanic and the narrative, it sort of makes sense that someone would have to burst through both to be freed.

The statistics being changed by disadvantage makes up for them being able to attempt to break through both in one single turn, abiding the implications that RAW requires a roll for each.

  • \$\begingroup\$ idk why this got downvoted, it's essentially the same as the top answer information wise, but with less sophisticated writing \$\endgroup\$
    – Dolers
    Jun 29, 2022 at 11:22
  • \$\begingroup\$ Nobody has refined my answer because it's down here. But, it is not an accurate answer because it does not actually reflect what RAW says directly. I did not realize you could stack conditions like grapple. \$\endgroup\$
    – bitfed
    Jun 30, 2022 at 15:21

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